I Admire Your Chipped Toenails (And Your Priorities)


I Admire Your Chipped Toenails (And Your Priorities)

When you look down at your feet, do you see sparkling colorful toes peeking out of your sandals adding the perfect accent to your summer garb? Good for you! Your beloved little feet made it to your to-do list this week. That is a stellar accomplishment worthy of applause. Does anyone else look down and see chipped polish and overgrown cuticles? Also, good for you! You deserve accolades and a few fist bumps. We know you have a to-do list that is a mile long and the little piggies just didn’t make the cut this week. You were doing other tasks that were higher on the list of priorities and your feet needed to wait their turn.

To-do lists

Moms are in a unique demographic category that is bombarded with constant self-improvement messages from a variety of fronts. Social media, television, magazines, celebrities, school newsletters, PTAs, husbands, politicians, and yes…other moms are in the business of offering a boatload of advice on how to BE BETTER. Be better at cooking, packing lunches, winging your eyeliner, budgeting, balancing work and home life, organizing pot lids, sneaking in protein, socializing with other moms, fundraising, reducing stress, constructing the perfect ponytail, getting better abs, going organic, making a killer chore chart, etc. The be-a-better-mom messages are endless. And the quest to be better results in a long to-do list.


The MOM TO-DO list is like the ever-impressive starfish that repeatedly regrows limbs. It doesn’t matter how many items you nix, there will always be another coming along to take its place. So what do we do?

We prioritize. Each hour, day, week and month, we decide what is most important, what needs to be done and what we can do to live our best life. Last week, I prioritized picking up prescriptions, organizing the left half of my closet, researching ways to lower my blood pressure, catching up with an old friend, touching up my roots, canceling cable and learning how to make a frittata. A pile of laundry mirroring a Brazilian landfill waited for me at the end of the hall. Not to mention the 45-hour work week I had to squeeze onto the calendar. My toenails did not make the cut. This week, to-do items included kid taxi service to sports and social events, writing letters of reference, reading all the shapewear reviews, and investigating the fallout of marijuana legalization in other states so I can decide where I stand on the issue (‘cause we all have to do on our own research on everything these days). I prioritized training my dog to stop barking at everyone who touched our lawn, monitoring my kids’ screen time and changing the frequency of my daughter’s Ipsy subscription. Plus, of course, feeding the people in my house. Sorry, toes…this was not your week either.


About three years ago, a colleague walked into my office. This woman worked hard, managed a busy family, and usually appeared to have a generally happy disposition regarding life. She was dressed nicely and her hair was done, but her toes were a hot mess. You know the situation…eight layers of Shanghai Sparkle in the middle of the toe surrounded by a half-inch of natural nail? Jagged edges, six feet of cuticle, and a middle toenail that’s disproportionately short? Yep…those feet still sported cute Steve Madden sandals.

At that moment, I looked at her feet and back up to her smile as she laughed at the joke she told. I had an epiphany. Feelings of solidarity washed over me as I thought “You too?” She was prioritizing. She never had the chance to polish up her nails, but still wanted to wear sandals. She exposed her toes without hesitation or apology. There was no silent judgment. There was no shame issued. Just like me, and just like you, she established her priorities for the day; painting toes was not at the top of the list. Probably not in the middle either. And I admire her for her choices.


I see you down there, my 10 little toe friends. I like when you are shiny, smooth, peachy and all one length. I want you to join my list of priorities, but I am forced to make decisions every day about what I need to do, how I want to use my time and ways I want to relax. When I say “yes” to one thing, I must say “no” to another. Sometimes my choices are selfless and important; other choices are frivolous and calming. I am sorry if you got kicked to the curb for the last two weeks, feet. But I have to be honest; next week isn’t looking so good for you either.

I promise, someday, you will be the top ten on my list!

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Hello! My name is Tricia and I am an associate professor in the Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology at University of Tennessee in Knoxville with specialties in stuttering and early childhood language. I am a mom to 3 girls, including 10 year old twins and a 14 year old, and a stepmom to 2 boys in their twenties. In 2013, my husband, Richard, and I relocated to Knoxville from Delaware. He grew up in NY and I in Pennsylvania. We love the small city feel of Knoxville, the proximity to the mountains and the fantastic community that surrounds us in our Farragut home. We spend our evenings and weekends on the sidelines cheering on our kids in various sporting events. My primary hobby is driving children from one place to another. I have a passion for anti-bullying movements, outdoor education and building support group networks around the world. I host a podcast entitled "Stutter Stories" to help share the voices of people who stutter internationally. I am a huge fan of thinking globally and acting locally. I am glad to be a part of Knoxville Moms and feel inspired when parents connect to take action for the well-being of each other and their children.


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